Since the All-Star break, Ben Simmons has played some of his best basketball.
Simmons picked up his sixth straight double-double Wednesday night during the Philadelphia 76ers’ 108-107 loss to the Chicago Bulls, per Sixers Stats. The double-double streak is the second-longest of his career, and he ranks ninth in the NBA for double-doubles, with 38.
Along with his six straight double-doubles, Simmons has also put up two triple-doubles in the past seven games. He has 10 triple-doubles this season, which ranks him third in the league behind Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook and Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic.
Simmons playing as well as he has shows his development over the course of the season. He recently has shown potential in playing off the ball, something he hasn’t done much in his career so far. Part of the reason for Simmons’ development off the ball recently is the addition of Tobias Harris.
Harris has the ability to handle the ball, so that allows Simmons to handle the ball less and cut into open lanes. In the video below, Harris commanded attention by dribbling into the paint. Simmons cut toward the hoop, giving a good angle for Harris to make the easy pass.
Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers’ leading scorer, hasn’t played in the past seven games because of tendinitis in his left knee.
Embiid will be out for the Sixers’ Friday road game against the Houston Rockets, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid could return Sunday, when the Sixers play the Indiana Pacers, per Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice.
Though Simmons has played well recently, Embiid is still the Sixers’ hub on offense — the team’s movement is based around him. Embiid is also the team’s anchor on defense, as Philly has a 102.5 defensive rating when he is on the court and a 108.7 defensive rating when he is off it, per NBA.com.
The Sixers are 4-3 in the seven games Embiid has been out.
But with Simmons showing offensive improvement, particularly in off-ball situations, the Sixers should be able to push for a higher seed in the playoffs. The Sixers are currently ranked fourth (41-24) in the Eastern Conference.